Motley Crue: Loud, joyful assault on the senses

Vincent Neil, lead vocalist of Motley Crue, gets a firestorm backdrop at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa on Wednesday.

KENNETH L. HAWKINS JR. | Times

Vincent Neil, lead vocalist of Motley Crue, gets a firestorm backdrop at the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa on Wednesday.

TAMPA — Summer concerts are a lot like summer movies. Sometimes bigger, louder, dumber is just what you need. Autumn is a time for nuance and, like, smart stuff; the sweaty season is ideal for awesomely stoopid NOISE.

On Wednesday, you could have joyfully wrecked your hearing either at Transformers 3 or by joining the 7,458 people at the Motley Crue-Poison gig at the St. Pete Times Forum. No difference, really: lots of screaming, endless 'splosions plus a guy being tossed about by a maniacal metallic beastie.

After a likably hammy opening set by '70s-born art-punk progenitors the New York Dolls — led by 61-year-old toastmaster David Johansen, growling about "Pills" like a taller, totally blase Mick Jagger — it was time to usher in the '80s.

No one gets the hair-metal aesthetic better than 48-year-old Poison frontman Bret Michaels, reality star and health-scare champ. The key to lasting on the glam-rock scene is not reinvention but repetition. And Poison has been thrusting out the same groinal riffs for 25 years.

With wacko guitarist C.C. DeVille spazzing out licks next to him, and drummer Rikki Rockett twirling the sticks like the job demands, Michaels opened with Look What the Cat Dragged In, the title cut from Poison's 1986 debut, the cover of which confused me sexually for months.

Poison is a curious opener for the Crue, seeing as how Michaels and Crue drummer Tommy Lee both made naughty "tapes" with Pamela Anderson. But musically, it was ideal, as Poison's closing songs — including Every Rose Has Its Thorn (Bic lighter alert!) and Talk Dirty to Me — set up the headlining firestorm.

A Crue show is a full-frontal assault on the senses. Screechy Vince Neil was a loose-cannon frontman. Sasquatchian bassist Nikki Sixx was a loogie-launching terror. Mick Mars was the invaluable guitarist whose solos defied his gnomish posture. And drummer Lee pounded the skins as if he were in a yard brawl at Shawshank.

Celebrating 30 years (and 32 shows in Tampa Bay!), the Crue literally exploded onto the stage. Kaboom, the curtain dropped, and there they were, plus two dancer-singer-strippers, unloading the vice of Wild Side. The sound was muddy; the energy and pyro testosterrific.

The stage looked like Busch Gardens of the Damned, thanks to Lee's 360-degree drum roller coaster. The tub-thumper is notorious for risking his life for our amusement, and this was his sickest trick yet. After his mates rocket-boosted out such filthy faves as Shout at the Devil and Same Ol' Situation (S.O.S.), it was time for a spin.

Guided by a demonic video hand, Lee teasingly rocked back and forth on a steel loop several stories high. Then the nutter went upside down, round and round, like a 48-year-old shirtless bat. He even brought a (lucky?) fan with him. Let's see a Transformer do that.

Sean Daly can be reached at sdaly@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8467.

Motley Crue: Loud, joyful assault on the senses 07/07/11 [Last modified: Thursday, July 7, 2011 10:10am]

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